The Croatian national football team will play for the first time in its history in the United States in May.
Last week the Croatian Football Federation confirmed a friendly fixture against Mexico on 27 May 2017 in Los Angeles at the Memorial Coliseum.
The match, which will kick-off at 16:30 local time, will be the first match in North America for Croatia, but it looks like it will be bad news for American fans hoping to see Croatia’s finest talent live.
It seems certain that a number of regular stars will not be making the trip across the Atlantic due to club commitments.
The Italian Serie A, which supplies most Croatian internationals, plays it last round of the season on 28 May 2017, the same weekend Croatia take on Mexico.
That means Croatian fans in L.A. will not see Mario Mandžukić, Ivan Perišić, Marcelo Brozović, Marko Pjaca, Milan Badelj, Marko Rog, Nikola Kalinić and others playing in the Italian league.
Ivan Rakitić is another who is not likely to feature in L.A. as Barcelona take on Alaves in the Copa Del Ray final on 27 May.
Another problem for coach Ante Čačić is that on the same weekend the Croatian first division plays its final round for the season. The season in Croatia ends with a Dinamo – Rijeka derby that could decide the league.
With a number of players likely to not make the trip to America, fans will still get to see some stars on show. Available players include Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, Andrej Kramarić, Dejan Lovren and Vedran Ćorluka.
“Of course, we are aware that this (match) is not an official FIFA date for international friendly matches, and that many national club competitions will be in the final stages. Therefore, we will not be able to call-up all the players, but we will travel to Los Angeles with the best possible team. Many Croatia players have already expressed their desire to play”, he said.
“I am not surprised at their desire since this is a historic moment for Croatia, the first appearance on North American soil, and a great number of Croatia fans from this continent are happy. The FIFA calendar does not open many opportunities for these matches outside of Europe, with such a strong opponent, but I am convinced that Croatia squad will be a respectable one. Mexico friendly is a great challenge, we all look forward to it”, concluded Čačić.
For fans looking to get tickets to the game, a Croatian supporters’ section at the stadium has been set up. Information here.